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Harvard Museum Of Natural History 2008

Boston is one of America's best places for family vacation because it is one big learning experience. The city is full of history and is surrounded by famous institutions of higher learning. One place to take your family to learn while having fun is the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

Founded in 1998, the Harvard Museum of Natural History serves to enhance understanding and appreciation of the natural world. More than 155,000 people visit its halls each year, making it the most visited attraction at Harvard. It's easy to see why.

From the moment you walk into the HMNH, you're greeted by the marvels of nature. Step across the hall and be amazed by the Ware Collection of Glass Flowers. These Blaschka glass models created in the 19th century are vibrant in color and so precise they look like real plant specimens.

Other amazing exhibits include arthropods featuring giant crabs and miniscule mites; fossil mammals including a 2,200 pound Glyptodont and a 15-foot ground sloth; a special collection of natural rarities featuring displays on extinct birds; and a mind-blowing dinosaur exhibit featuring a 42-foot long Kronosaurus, a triceratop, and a "living fossil" fish.

Continue the journey to the Hall of Mammals, and enroute visit exhibits on animals from Africa, South America and Asia. The Hall of Mammals is the oldest part of the building, built in the 19th century, and features a full-sized giraffe, whale skeletons, the extinct Tasmanian wolf, and an impressive display of North American birds.

The HMNH also features exhibits on minerals, gems and metoerites, as well as a special exhibit on climate change. Developed with the Harvard University Center for the Environment, the exhibit features the latest in scientific research on the Earth's climate, and a computer simulator gives you a glimpse of how your decisions can affect the environment in the future.

Programs at the HMNH make a visit there especially exciting for kids. Weekend programs include Sunday family programs, Nature Storytime, and the museum also offers natural science-themed vacations and birthday parties.

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is closed on holidays. It is located at 26 Oxford Street in Cambridge, Mass., just past Harvard Yard.

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